Thursday, May 10, 2007

Motorola Q Review: In The Beginning ...

Since I’m heading off to the wilds, I finally gave in and decided to go fully mobile for reading e-mail. Yeah, yeah, I know, 5 years after everyone else out here, but I figured a long beta period was required!

Given that I am somewhat stuck with Verizon in order to get even halfway decent coverage at home, my options were limited. I’ve not been impressed with the Treos I’ve seen, largely thanks to their size and relatively poor phone & battery performance. Blackberry devices can be had via Verizon, but then your ability to synch directly with Outlook is lost. Personally, I don't like things with little pointers, if for no other reason than I lose them, so wasn't constrained by the need for a touchscreen.

Motorola therefore looked favourite, at least on .html. And black was the choice du jour, obviously.

It arrived overnight via Fed Ex, and complete with the basics necessary to fill it up with lots of scrummy e-mail goodness.

After calling Verizon to unlock the thing, it quickly became clear that it would be faster to have IT set up the Outlook synchronization for me since you need all kinds of insider-information in order to make it all work off the right server. (You may also find that you have to disable certificate checking on the Q in order to make it work properly, too.)

Within an hour or so, the device basically worked. Worked, that is, but with one small hiccup – it deleted all my calendar appointments from Outlook occuring after April 27th and then promptly synch’d that change back to the server. Net result was I then got to spend all morning the next day restoring Outlook from a backup in order to recover my diary. Neither I nor IT knows why this happened, but happen it did. Anyway, since that point it’s not been an issue so I’ll chalk that up to a random act of nature rather than some fundamental flaw.

Size, weight, form-factor? Basically fine on all counts, especially given the need to squeeze a keyboard in there somehow. As the picture shows, it compares reasonably well with the Motorola Razr, and has a much better level of customization available than does that phone (which exhibits one of the poorest UIs I’ve encountered on a hand-held device.) Battery life as an e-mail platform seems to be roughly two days, but I’m sure that’s sensitive to how often you poke at the thing to read stuff, change options, look cool in meetings, etc.

Price was approximately $240 but with the promise of a $50 mail-in rebate which, I only noted on the paperwork and not on the web, I may not get as the fine print seems to say that it’s only for business customers. We’ll see. With the low-end package of 450 minutes peak-time chat and unlimited data, this will run you $80 per month in service charges, so long as you pledge your allegiance to Verizon for a 2 year term.

I’ve had little chance to play with things like web browsing or other stuff, and have no idea at all as to how it works as a phone. (I decided to keep the Razr plus existing number as my primary phone until I see how well this thing works out.)

I’ll let you know how things progress and if it works as I want it to when travelling out-of-town, especially to places with less than stellar coverage like, say, Alaska, where I can't even figure out from the Verizon web site if data download is an option …


I said...

i have a treo 650 and it sucks as a phone. The email connectivity is great, the sync of diary/tasks to outlook, but the phone part is just plain awefull. I can try and dial a contact to not get through, or have the phone crash in mid-call. It's not droppping coverage it's just the phone resets itself!

J said...

I still haven't tried the phone part. That will have to wait. I'm still wedded to my current phone and number, and need to be comfortable that this thing will serve both purposes. Battery life is OK - so long as you don't actaully use it! But again, I need to use it more extensively to really figure it all out. Anyway, it's been a real Godsend here in Alaska as a way to stay in touch anytime I can get a cell phone signal.